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Helping Your Child Pick The Best Extracurricular Activities

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With the wide variety of extracurricular activities available at most school what’s the best way to pick which ones for your child to participate in? Which ones are they going to get the most out of both on a fun level and on a looking towards the future level? Should we let our children choose their activities strictly on their own or should we offer our own input and guidance?

These are the kinds of questions that we ask ourselves as parents when our children start being old enough to participate in activities outside of school.

The answers to these questions can have a long lasting impact on how our children develop and should be taken very seriously. 

It’s very hard not to step in and take the decision completely out of our children’s hands after all we’re the parent and think that we must know better due to our much vaster experience and knowledge. However, this is not always the best solution and can lead to great resentment and poor performance in the activity from the child involved. A much better approach is to be involved in the decision making process giving guidance and advice but also letting the child have the major say in the issue. After all it’s them that will participating in the activity not us.

Start by contacting the school and finding out what activities are available at your child age and grade level and what’s necessary to participate. This is an important first step because your child may not be aware of all the things that are offered at their school.

It might surprise you exactly how much variety is available and can be a bit intimidating but remember that your child won’t be participating in all of the activities only the ones that they choose and you agree to.

Next sit down with your child and ask them what activities they are interested in. Have the list of activities with you during this conversation so that they can see what exactly is available and what is involved with each. This will help them make a more informed decision. Talk about the pros and cons of each activity and exactly how much time each one will take. It’s also important to talk about the amount of commitment required so that they understand the seriousness of signing up especially for team activities where the members count on each other.

Don’t scare them away from the activity but make sure they know all the things involved. 

Once you’ve looked over all the activities it’s time to start narrowing down the list. There are going to be some activities that your child has absolutely no interest in and it’s best to get those out of the way before continuing. Once you have a smaller list it’s much easier to go through and decide which ones to participate in. One way to narrow the list further is to ask your child to rate how interested they are in each activity and then narrow the list down again by removing the ones that they are only kind of interested in. This should hopefully make your list much smaller and easier to manage. Go through it again and talk about each activity and why they want to participate. Try to gauge which activities they really seem the most excited about and narrow the list down to those activities. 

Now it’s time to figure out which activities your child will have the time to participate in. Take a sheet of paper and make a schedule of the week marking out the time that is spent in school. Look at what’s left and this is the time available for extra curricular activities. Ask you child how much of this time they want to devote to activities and remind them that if they fill their schedule too much they won’t have any free time. Debate the merits of each one with them but in the end it’s going to depend on what they think they can handle and what you think they can handle. Try to reach a compromise. 

At the end you have a schedule of activities that should be possible for your child to participate in and still have time for homework and rest. Make sure to watch out for overloaded schedules but other than that follow your child’s lead .

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Children

5 Tips To Help Structure Your Teaching Approach For Your Home Schooled Child

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Home schooling can be a lot of fun, especially for both children and parents who are tired of the traditional way of educating a child in a prototype format.

It does not however, necessarily mean that if you opt to home school your children, you can teach your child whatever you want to teach and do whatever you want to do.

Like the formal method of teaching in schools, home schooling is also a process that parents have to learn and understand in order to provide their children the benefits of the program.

Hence, parents who have decided to home school their children but do not know how to format an overall plan in order to come up with the best structure in teaching their children, here are some tips that that might help you:

1. Knowledge about the benefits

It is important to know the reasons and the benefits for which you have opted to home school your child. 

Once you are aware that you and your child are more benefited in home schooling than the usual type of schooling, it would then be easy, for you to a make a curriculum that both you and your child will appreciate.

2. Have a goal and devise some motivations

It is better if you outline your goals at the outset. Identify what you want to achieve with your children as well as for yourself. Doing this you will be inspired and focused while teaching. Your goals act as your guide in formulating the necessary approach to teaching.

3. Determine a budget

Many parents think that since home schooling provides a cheaper means of educating their children, it’s alright for them to spend on expensive books, in spite of other cheaper options. 

Home schooling materials are indeed, important in order to provide the best teaching methods. However, it does not always mean that you have to overindulge your children.

Set a budget for your home schooling program. Many items on the Internet could help you to come up with the best strategies and methods without too much expenditure. 

4. Know your child’s capacity to understand and the way he learns things

Though many home schooling programs and methods are available on the market today, nothing comes close to perfection in providing your child the best education if you do not know how you and your child should go about the program. This can only be done easily if you are familiar with your child’s style of learning.

You have to identify the curiosity level and interest of your child in order to decide on the best approach to teaching that would motivate your child.

Why most children do not excel in school is because the method of teaching is inappropriate to their interest and level of curiosity. Hence, focus on this aspect is necessary.

5. Communicate with your child.

Communication with your child helps you identify the things that bother them and the areas where they need improvement. Most parents are so focused on providing their children the best education that they forget that the best education that they could provide is to listen to their children’s needs and from then guide them however they can.

Most parents forget that the essence of learning is based on the child’s wish to study. Usually parents have the tendency to push their children into the direction that they think would be the best for them.
By this, the children wind up miserable because the things that they need, are not provided simply because their parents failed to understand their children.

The teaching approach in home schooling compared to the usual method used in the typical schools is that parents should concentrate on the child’s learning style, interest. Parents should have the ability to understand what they want to learn. Only by this method can they teach their child in the best possible manner whatever is necessary.

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Children

Why are kids picky eaters

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There are multiple factors on why a child may be a picky eater and it depends on your child’s age. Dr. Carson offers up these three reasons as to why kids can be picky eaters:

Exerting Their Independence

Kids coming into their “terrible twos” want to exert their independence. They like to say “no” which is a healthy developmental stage. Food is one way that they can declare their independency.

Children pick up right away that you can’t make them eat. Dr. Carson recommends parents implement strategies to deal with their child’s independence with food.

  1. Don’t let your child see that you are upset and worried. If the child sees a reaction then they realize they have received the upper hand. When that happens do not get worried. Stick to what you want to feed them. It is okay if they don’t eat it. Find one food they like and have it on their food plate for each meal.
  2. Take a back seat to food battles. If your child doesn’t eat it, try introducing that food to them again at another time. Dr. Allen Schwartz, M.D. (In Memoriam) also from Children’s Healthcare Medical Associates and over 32 years of pediatric care, once told me that so many families just don’t have family meals together any more, we have all gotten so busy, so when you do have a family meal, he suggested, keep it positive. There is no need for food battles at the family table. He said to establish your food “rules” before you sit down to eat.
  3. Don’t cook around the child. If your child doesn’t like their meal, don’t make them a special meal. Dr. Carson admits that cooking a around your child is a terrible approach and gives the child control.

Sensitivity to Textures

There are lots of explanations for a child’s sensitivity to textures such as variations different than the “normal swallowing” and the struggle with too thin or thick foods. Also those kids who are autistic or have developmental problems also have a challenge with healthy eating patterns. Find textures they like. If they don’t try it at first, reintroduce at a later time. Try taking foods they like and adding it to food they don’t like and augment accordingly.

Reaction to Food

Your child might have a milk, protein, or nut products allergy. If your child eats foods that they are allergic to it can create an unpleasant reaction. They might have gluten sensitivity. They might be sensitive to acidity and citrus foods.

As an example, when I was a child I would gag on applesauce and would not eat apples. My mom would never force me to eat applesauce and would then offer me some other fruit. She didn’t make a big deal out of it. Later we found out that I am allergic to apples and to this day I still don’t eat them. Not even apple pies.

Some kids don’t like spicy foods. Some kids are also born with salt cravings or a sugary tooth. Dr. Carson advices parents to not build your family’s meals around your child’s unhealthy cravings.

This answer is part of Sharon Smith’s interview with Dr. Stephen Carson from Children’s HealthCare Medical Associates in San Diego, who has been a pediatrician for 33 years.

I don’t like to point fingers, but to be honest, I have to. In the vast majority of clients I see, parents are to blame for picky eating habits. There are some medical exceptions, but they are rare.

What usually happens is kids are enthusiastically eating and trying new foods from about 6 months to 1 ½ years old. Many parents agree it’s an exciting and enjoyable time watching with wonder as their kids move through different tastes and textures. And then…pickiness sets in. Kids start refusing certain foods or skipping meals and snacks all together.

What parents don’t understand is that at about 18 months calorie needs decrease so kids just don’t need that much food. Skipping meals and snacks is normal, but not to parents who saw their little one’s love for food for so many months prior. Because parents are not use to their kids refusing food, they panic. The panic causes parents to reach for any food the kids will eat. And this is why many kids develop into picky eaters.

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Children

Parenting Pro Tips 11 ways to drive your teenager nuts

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Today’s topic: how to drive your teenager completely bull-goose loony, in just a few simple steps (without receiving a phone call from Child and Youth Services or your local equivalent). We both have considerable experience in this matter, and have decided, out of the goodness of our hearts, to share it with you.

Why would you want to know how to drive your kid up a wall? If you’re asking this, you’ve probably never actually had a teenager. Trust us. At some point, you will need this information.

Okay, your kids may have already left home, but with a little creativity you can probably find ways to apply at least a little of what you’re about to learn, even if your children have long since fled halfway around the globe. So settle in, and get ready to take notes. There will be a test.

Friend your kid on Facebook.

No caption needed, really. We think the image says it all.

For some teens, this will be taken as an act of aggression, equivalent to hiding their iPhone or implementing the parental control setting on your TV cable box, such that they only have access to one channel: the Ontario Legislature Channel, to be specific. (Actually, this isn’t a bad idea, either. We might be speaking from experience.)

2. Once you’ve friended your kid, look around for his or her friends, and send each of them a friend request, too.

This works best if you actually know who your child hangs out with, but it can be fun to branch out, too. Friend everyone your kid knows on Facebook, regardless of who they are! After all, you want your kid to be popular, right? And when your teen’s friends see how open and welcoming her parents are, they will be unbelievably impressed. Your kid’s cool factor will skyrocket.

3. If any of your child’s friends reciprocate and friend you back (don’t laugh, it has happened), make sure you post on their Wall.

Post early, post often. Post things on your own child’s wall, too. You wouldn’t want your kid to think you value his/her friends more than him/her, would you? Exactly. Oh, and “like” everything your kid does. Even those pics of your kid barfing at last Saturday’s party. This is called “unconditional positive regard,” and all the parenting books recommend it. We do, too.

4. Some parents aren’t sure what they should post.

We suggest that you simply respond (in a sensitive manner, of course) to whatever issues your kid (or their friends) seem to be experiencing that day. For example, if your teen mentions that they found it hard to get up that morning, you could say something like, “Yes, Snookums really was a fuzzy-wuzzy gwumpy bear this morning, wasn’t he?” Your child will appreciate your sympathetic approach. Pet names are optional, of course, but they do help to convey your caring message.

5. Don’t forget: teens love it when we speak their lingo.

It shows them that we are real killer-diller hep cats. And kittens. So sprinkle your posts liberally with slang and text-speak. For example, let’s say you want to respond to a picture of your kid at a recent party. Instead of saying, “My goodness, son, you look like you were inebriated!” try posting, “Yo! Dude!!1! PARTAAAAAY!1!” This may not be English, but trust us, your kid will know what you mean. And will love you for it.

6. Deliberately mis-pronounce words that have only one possible pronunciation.

A favourite word to mess with is “psychological”, which, when you give it a little effort, becomes “psy-ko-logg-ih-cal“. When they say get annoyed and try to pronounce it the other way, look at them with pity in your eyes and condescension in your soul and reply, “but that’s not logg-ih-cal“.

7. Lie.

A lot. When a big holiday comes along, like, say, Easter, who would blame you if you sat inside your locked bedroom and ate all the chocolate eggs and jelly beans? I mean, you’ve had them hidden in your room for a week prior, you’re only human, you just wanted one…and next thing you know, your face is covered in chocolate, you’ve got tinfoil in your teeth and your tongue is every colour of the rainbow. Well, oops. Sue me. I ate them and I enjoyed every pre-diabetic moment of it. But now it’s time for the Easter Egg Hunt and the cupboard is bare. This is when lying comes in handy. Tell your little kiddies that the Easter Bunny’s flight got delayed and she’ll be coming tomorrow with her baskets of joy, not today. Once you’ve placated them, run down to See’s Candies and stock up again, making sure to buy extra just in case you, um, want more.

7.1. Lie to make your life easier. I read a good one the other day: when the ice cream truck drives through the neighbourhood ringing its bells, tell your child that they only do that to announce they’ve run out of ice cream.

This is brilliant in its simplicity and cunning. I’m surprised our mother didn’t think of it back when we were young.

8. Whenever your kids ooh and aah at someone else’s startling act of genius, like winning an Olympic gold, for example, claim that you won one as well.

The bigger the story, the better. How to ease into this fabrication: “Well, Johnny, I actually invented that lightning bolt stance when I broke the 9-second barrier at the 1934 Olympics in Timbuktu. It was written up in all the record books, you know and the government gave me free cheese for life.” This one works a treat as well: “Oh my god, it’s much more difficult than it looks, wearing that lingerie, stilettos, and those angel wings down the catwalk—do you have any idea how heavy wings are???” Kids love this. Trust us.

9. Make sure to vacuum their room early and often.

Don’t do it while they’re out, as they may not notice your efforts, and won’t have the chance to thank you properly. Rather, wait for the right moment, such as when they’ve been out late the night before, and the room smells like stale beer. While you’re vacuuming, it’s a nice touch to sing along with the vacuum cleaner. Kind of a “whistle while you work” thing. It’s easy: just open your mouth and go, “EEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeEEEEEEEEEEE…” as loudly as possible. We promise you, they’ll thank you for the clean living space. They may also offer you their allowance if you JUST. PLEASE. SHUT. UP.

10. On the dance floor, be the Parent With the Mostest by knowing all the words and actions to YMCA or The FunkyChicken.

If you feel ambitious, go look up the latest viral video on YouTube, Gangnam Style.

Doesn’t this look like a fun little dance move? You will definitely be Top of the Pops with your kids if you can nail this one. (Image from allkpop.com)

Your kids will be unbelievably impressed if you can emulate these dance moves—especially if you dress the part! Don’t be afraid to attempt a little air-guitar, either. Most kids will be riveted to the spot by your awesome moves. This is not the time for lip-synching. Sing loud, sing proud.

11. When the waiter comes to take your order at a restaurant, make sure you say in a plaintive but loud voice, “Mummy needs a liddle drinkie.”

Kids think this is quite hysterical, especially if it’s breakfast time. Don’t be surprised if they fall off their seats with laughter. This tip works, whether you’re ordering from McDonald’s or a 5-star Michelin restaurant. For extra bonus points, you can follow them around while they’re shopping in their favourite hip, happening places, wailing, “But [insert kid’s name here], slow down! Mummy needs a drinkie-poo!” This is sure to bring the house down.

If you follow these helpful tips, developed by us through years of hard work and diligence, you are guaranteed results of a spectacular nature.

It took us 30 years to perfect the ability of driving a teenager wonky—after reading this, you’ll be able to achieve the same positive results in just hours. You’re welcome.

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